­Soccer talent search puts players on radar

U20 TEAM: Players called up the Guam U20 Women's National Team Training and Talent Identification Camp pose for a team photo with staff at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in San Diego, Calif. In the photo, first row, from left, are Tristyana Santos, coach Keleko Fejeran, coach Maggie Phillips, head coach Ross Awa, team physiotherapist Kelsey Kuehn and Kiarra Hutcherson. In the middle row, from left, are: Isabella Truong, Sarah Benavente, Olivia Leon Guerrero, Samantha Santos, Camryn Cruz, Samantha "SK" Kenney (captain), Minami Rabago, Yasmeen Lopez, Ha'ani Ettleman and Annie Jones. In the back row, from left, are: Annika Almario, Jadyn Palomares, Kaia Malakooti, Myah Polzin, Emily Walton, Jada Han, Lola Martin and Emma Foley. Photo courtesy of GFA

The best soccer players from the Guam U20 Women’s National Team may be called up for the Masakåda, Guam Women’s National Team, following a Talent Identification and Training Camp held this week at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, the Guam Football Association announced in a press release.

The players called up to the San Diego training camp are athletes from birth years 2003–2006, with the upper age group soon to advance from the U20 level to the senior level for international competition.

“This camp serves a dual purpose that enables our domestic players to be in an elite setting for future competitions and to assess new players that are eligible to play for Guam from abroad,” said Ross Awa, U20 Women’s National Team head coach. “As we are currently in camp, word continues to spread around the identification camp and we are finding more players who are eligible for the women’s program. Although this is a U20 Women’s Identification Camp, there are talented players who are on the radar to be called up to the Masakåda as well.

“Initially, the Guam U20 Women’s National Team had been training to prepare for the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022 Qualifiers Round 1, which was canceled last month. Although the tournament was canceled, the coaching staff and I wanted to provide the players an opportunity to compete.”

Called up to the San Diego training camp are goalkeepers Kiarra Hutcherson and Tristyana Santos and field players Annika Almario, Sarah Benavente, Camryn Cruz, Ha’ani Ettleman, Emma Foley, Jada Han, Annie Jones, Samantha Kenney, Olivia Leon Guerrero, Yasmeen Lopez, Kaia Malakooti, Lola Martin, Jadyn Palomares, Myah Polzin, Minami Rabago, Samantha Santos, Isabella Truong and Emily Walton.

“The pandemic has made it challenging for us to play matches at home and also, at this time, travel with Asia is not easy,” Awa said. “I am very grateful to Guam Football Association and the GFA executives for affording us the opportunity to conduct a training and identification camp at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site.

“During this camp, the coaching staff and I are observing how the players respond to an environment that allows them to solely focus on football. It is important that the players perform well and are able to maintain a positive mindset on and off the pitch.”

The training camp includes three scrimmages, with two against local club competition: DMCV Sharks G-05 ECNL squad and the SD Rebels 04/05 squad. The third scrimmage will be an intersquad scrimmage. Players also are engaging in training sessions on nonmatch days, according to the press release.

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